Concert Review: Between The Buried & Me

Fellow music lovers, welcome to the fifth edition of my concert-going stories here in the lovely city of Seattle. I was left with a mighty bruise after getting kicked in the forehead at the last concert I went to (Misery Signals), which you can read about here.

This time, I focus on one of the biggest - if not the biggest - names in the world of progressive metal - Between The Buried & Me, or BTBAM for short. It was a pretty good bill, as I was also a fan of two of the openers.

BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME - 10/4/2013 @ El Corazon
w/ The Safety Fire, The Contortionist, and The Faceless

The year was 2006 (or 2005 maybe, I'm getting senile). I was not a cool guy. As a junior in high school, I often sported a black combat cap, Dickies shorts, and those black socks that came up to your knees. I was the definition of a toolshed. And being that Tool has been my favorite band for over ten years, this made perfect sense. I was, like many other kids my age, completely caught up in the massive popularity and rise of metalcore bands that were dominant in the latter half of the decade. Bands like Still Remains, Killswitch Engage, and As I Lay Dying were a dime a dozen. I still listen to many of these bands, because you can't kill the high school kid in me.

Living in San Diego, most of the shows I went to were at a venue known as Soma, a dingy old theater-type building with a main stage and a side stage. A tour with Bleeding Through as the headliner was coming to San Diego soon, with Haste The Day, Between The Buried & Me, and Everytime I Die as support. I loved Haste The Day and enjoyed Everytime I Die, while knowing nothing about these other two bands. I checked out their myspaces (that should give you a frame of reference). I remember thinking "Man, these guy's songs are super long" about BTBAM when I listened to one of their songs. This, from a Tool fan. I didn't even finish the song.

Anyways, the night of the show. Haste The Day was great. Then BTBAM got up. Everything I knew about this band was encapsulated by the three minutes of attention I gave them prior to the show. They blew me away. I don't even remember the songs or the set. All I know is that I came very close to quitting guitar - and music in general - forever after that night.

Every musician in this band is a master of their craft. Their influences are listed as being Queen, Metallica, Pantera, Aerosmith, etc. They incorporate jazz, polka, bluegrass, grindcore, southern metal, industrial metal, technical death metal, and weird circus music all into one pristine package. 

Since that fateful night, I've had the fortune of seeing this band four times, with all manner of other acts, ranging from Coheed & Cambria and Norma Jean to Russian Circles and Misery Signals. I've seen them perform their magnum opus Colors live. I've seen their cover of "Bicycle Race." I've witnessed "Selkies: The Endless Obsession" as an encore at least three times. So when I heard that they were performing their latest album Parallax II: Future Sequence in its entirety, I geeked out.

Everything about this band is a music nerd's dream. Their album is the second half of a story that explains a relationship between two separate entities who are also the same person living in different galaxies, or something. I still don't fully understand the story, but if you're curious you can read about it in this concise read-up. I'm a sucker for concept albums, and this CD came with sci-fi art in the form of a storybook. Yes, it's awesome. You could even buy a freaking BTBAM spacesuit to celebrate the spirit of this album:

So yes, everything about this show was nerdy. Before you ask, I did see at least three people wearing these at the show. They all had neckbeards.

As for the show itself, the openers were pretty good. I'm only briefly mentioning them because I actually listen to a couple of them. The Safety Fire came all the way from London to play and they killed it. I saw The Contortionist for the second time this year, though they only played songs from their new album. Fun fact, all three of these bands put out albums that were on my top ten list last year. The Faceless was silly.

Taking pointers from the sci-fi masters Coheed & Cambria and aesthetics from prog giants Tool, BTBAM took the stage amidst samples of swirling static and a robotic voice counting down to zero. Twin circular projectors flanked Blake Richardson's drum set, detailing montages of spaceships, asteroid belts, and ship logs. Multicolored lights scanned the audience at intervals synced with the music. The images changed depending on the song  and the lights died down during buildups, only to explode in brilliant swirls of colors following each crescendo. It was a little overwhelming.

Even though half of the songs on the album clock in at well over nine minutes, the set went by too fast. Much like their previous albums, each song seamlessly transitions into the next, leaving the listener unable to tell the difference unless they knew what to look for. I heard a dude behind me ask another guy what song they were playing because he was so lost. Amateurs.

Here are the highlights and lowlights.

Highlights: Um, seeing BTBAM for the fifth time? Seriously - I know the lyrical content of the past few albums have been nothing more than nonsensical sci-fi narratives, but that stuff is right up my alley. The lights, the images - everything was perfect. Thomas Giles Rogers is the Freddie Mercury of our generation. I got to buy two sweet shirts and was this close to buying a BTBAM hat, but I'm not that big of a tool. 

Oh yeah, and they performed "White Walls" for an encore. It was the first time I've seen them play anything other than "Selkies" for the encore. The crowd seemed to agree with the decision.

Lowlights: Everyone there to see The Faceless. Oh, and The Faceless. Also, the token drunk girls. One in particular was so drunk she was bulling guys and girls aside to get in the pit. I followed her with my eyes to see what would happen, only to see her get completely taken out - as in, her feet left the floor. It was sweet justice.

Now that I think about it, I think I've seen BTBAM more than any other band. I'd see them twice a year every year for the rest of my life if I could, until I get the chance to be that drunk old guy in the bar wearing a space suit. Because that's what I aspire to be.

Do what you have to do to listen to them.

I leave you with their video for "Astral Body:"

Until the next show!


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